For Your Listening Pleasure: Music Speaks

Music Speaks

In this post auto-tunes era of music it seems nearly impossible to find an album that I can listen to from start to finish.  I tend to find myself having to mute the volume or skip a track or three because the song is too vulgar or the artist just doesn’t appeal to me from a lyrical standpoint.  It’s a little disappointing because I love music, and I love how strong, beautiful voices mesh together with beats and different harmonies to make a complete work of art. Continue reading

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Adventures in Babysitting

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…phone ringing…

Mel: Hello?

Sam: Ayyy, whatupbro? Can you watch the kids for me tonight? My babysitter cancelled on me.

Mel: Dang man. Wish I could, but I have to teach tonight. I can ask Bri if she can do it. I’ll call you back.

Sam: Ok. Thanks.

Mel: No problem.

5 minutes later…phone rings…

Sam: Hello?

Mel: She can do it. Just bring them by the house after 7. She will be there.

Sam: Thanks bro. I owe y’all one.

Mel: No you don’t. Just enjoy your date night.

Jaylah and Kameron….Kameron and Jaylah. Monsters of the Midway. Twin Terrors….or my personal favorite…Sam’s kids.

At first glance, these two look to be angels sent from Heaven. They greet you with gentle smiles and warm hugs. Then they politely ask to play with building blocks just before they scurry away to amuse themselves in the corner. All the while, having you think that this will be a piece of cake.

My two little Angels.

My two little Angels.

Before the nights end, you could possibly be pulling out your hair. Soon you find yourself clawing at the door in hopes that their parents are just steps away from freeing you from your recent torment. You realize why their parents gave you the side eye as they thanked you for keeping their bundles of joy, and gave each other a high five as they walked out the door.

Just kidding. They are not bad. Not by a long shot. They just like to have their own type of fun which is coupled with endless amounts of energy. For Jaylah, it’s playing house with tiny dolls, and then sipping “tea” and “feeding you” a meal she just prepared in her brand new kitchen. For Kam, having fun means sprinting up and down the hallway until he falls…then hopping right back up and doing it all over again. He does this while totally ignoring your pleas for him to slow down and stop…endless amounts of energy.

Of course I’m joking about my little buddies being tiny monsters or even terrors. They are, in fact Sam’s kids, and so they act like he did so many years ago. Always full of energy and enthusiasm. If your not prepared for their type of fun, it could overwhelm you. This is what I feared may happen to my dear wife.

So as I made my way into class all I could think about was how tired Bri was gonna be when I got home. I can hear her now: “Boo, I’m soooo tired. I don’t know if I can do it again. They wore me out.” My poor baby was gonna be a hot mess when I got home.

A couple times a month I used to teach a class called Victim Awareness. In this class I, along with a co-facilitator, would baby sit, I mean, show the youth of Santa Clara County the importance of respecting their fellow man (with a very strong emphasis on victims of crime). This was a great way for me to reach out to my community and make a difference. Most of the young men and women who attended these classes were focused more on the clock than on our words of wisdom.

Those that did pay attention made positive strides in life. Those that didn’t usually ended up back in our class 30-60 days later. In spite if their total disregard of our teachings, we never stopped pushing them to do better…as if we were parents, legal guardians, or…..baby sitters. Eventually it would stick.

On this night in my class full of juvenile delinquents, I found myself focusing on the Mrs. In between pleas to use the potty and gentle taps on the table to get “John” or “Joan” to pick their heads off the desk I fought the urge to call her and check in. 9 pm couldn’t come fast enough for me so that I could go home and see the outcome of our social experiment.

When I walked into the apartment, I expected to see a space that had been ravaged by twin tornados. Toys would be scattered everywhere. My dear wife’s face would be filled tears of fear and terror. Well, maybe I exaggerate a bit, but I did expect to hear her voice raised as my little homies ran a muck.

To my surprise, when I opened the door I was greeted with the exact opposite. Kam was in the corner building a castle with his blocks. On the other side of the room Jaylah and Bri both lay comfortably on the couch watching Dora the Explorer.

I gave my beautiful wife a cool smile and a nod to let her know that I was impressed….very impressed. She just turned and brushed her shoulders off as if to shame me for ever doubting her. Touché my dear….touché.

When they noticed that Uncle was in the room. Both little ones broke their silence and greeted me with their usual forms of child like affection. Kam stood up and did his happy dance (rocking from side to side while twirling in a circle). Then Miss Jaylah screamed “UUUNCLEEE!!!” As she ran and jumped into my arms.

For just a moment I was jealous of Sam and Renee. No matter how bad your day is, and no matter what life takes you through…to be greeted with such honest love and affection will melt any cold heart. They were very lucky to be greeted with this type of “welcome home” each and every day. I can remember thinking “I could get used to this.”

After we said our goodbyes, Sam and Renee took the kids home. I was preparing to take a seat on the couch and enjoy some quality time with the Mrs. Then she told me that she would be right back.

While she was gone, not gonna lie, I used the next few minutes to get drawn into the latest Dora adventure. “Swipers no swiping.” I whispered to myself as I became totally engulfed into what I was watching. You laugh now, but once a kid comes into the picture watch how much “adult” tv you watch then in comparison to now. Things will change my friend.

Then Bri came around the corner, and my attention shifted back to her. Her demeanor had changed. She seemed nervous and a bit jittery.

So, Miss lady walked towards me and uttered softly “here” as she handed me a small object. I glanced down at my new found prize only to realize that it was truly a game changer.

A white stick with a green plus. Is this really what I think it is? I looked up at her and asked “really?” She assured me that after 5 or 6 tries with the same result….yes really. WE ARE HAVING A BABY!!!

So, now there’s no need to be jealous anymore. In just a few short months Avery Olivia-Lynn Hughes will greet mommy and daddy with warm smiles and gentle hugs.

Here's our bundle of joy!

Here’s our bundle of joy!

Oh yeah. In my excitement of finding out that I was about to become a daddy, I tried my best to play it cool. I could feel something bubbling inside me that made me want to jump for joy (no, it wasn’t the burrito I had earlier). When I finally calmed down and brought myself back to reality, I paused and asked myself one quick question….”Did this chick just put a pee stick in my hand!?!”

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Light Rail Diaries: 11.18.13

Light Rail Diaries

Light Rail Diaries

11/18/13

Ok, so I got off today on time around 4 pm.  The short walk to the freedom was a welcome stroll until….the cold chill of Jack Frost gave me a quick 1, 2 to the jaw when I opened the office door.  “This weather is NOT the business,” is what I muttered as I struggled to make it outside.

As I began my walk to the train station I noticed something.  Winter is in full effect!  Anybody that knows me knows that I’m a man that loves the warmth of summer.  Winter chills and hot, heavy clothes rank real low on my “favorites” list.

Today on the train, I saw several people that could make arguments for either case of loving or hating winter time.  They all made compelling “arguments.”  One individual even decided to play in the middle of the road.

First, there was this couple that sat beside me on our two seater bench seat.  These two were all cuddled up generating body heat like they were an electric heater.  Wait…what?  “C’mon bro.  I know it’s chilly, but y’all don’t need to be cramping me over here by the window because y’all wanna make a human s’more.”  My facial expression must’ve given away how I was feeling, because they put their love session on pause and moved to another seat.

The second instance of our wintertime argument came right before I got off the train.  There was a gentleman sitting close to the door.  He was bundled up as if it were 40 degrees outside.  A little overdone, but I could feel his pain.

Apparently, I don't hide my facial expressions very well.

Apparently, I don’t hide my facial expressions very well.

In his hand was a brown bag with what looked like a 40 ounce “beverage” enclosed.  From time to time he would take a sip.  Whenever the doors opened, allowing winter’s cold chill to invade our space, he would take a deep gulp.  As I walked passed him, I asked…”rough day?”  He responded with…”bro, you don’t know the half.”

I gave him a customary head nod to acknowledge his discomfort.  As I got off the train to head home, I told him to “take it easy” while he responded with “keep it warm.”  We both smiled as I left, and he took another gulp of his cold remedy.

Now, I’ve given you an example of folk who seemed to enjoy the cold weather.  Then I showed you how others, like myself, think it’s not their favorite time of year.  I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the gentleman I saw board the train who seemed to teeter on both sides of the spectrum.  This guy, who we’ll call Joe, boarded the train shortly after the smores couple vacated my seat.  He proceeded to stroll to the rear of the train and sat directly behind me.

Now Joe seemed a bit confused to me.  He wore one of those knit caps with the little poofy ball on the top.  He also sported a full beard to keep his face warm.  Saying that his beard was full would be an understatement.  The length of it would surely allow him to be a full fledged member of the Duck Dynasty family.  He would make Si a proud man.

Here is where it got a little weird.  My man was dressed from the neck up like it was fully winter time.  From the neck down…not so much.  Home boy was rockin’ the short sleeved shirt.  Not too “out there,” because I’ve seen people rockin’ the short or sleeveless look in cold weather quite often.  It’s when I noticed that ole boy was rockin cargo shorts that I began to think something was up.

"Joe's" beard would make Uncle Si proud.

“Joe’s” beard would make Uncle Si proud.

When he sat down, things became a tad bit clearer to me as to why Joe was dressed down so much.  He wreaked of a liquor cabinet.  So, no matter how cold it was outside…good ole Joe could probably melt ice with the mere touch of his index finger.

I turned around to give my newfound riding buddy a gander while he did his best acapella version of Rihanna’s “We Found Love.”  To my surprise…initially, he wasn’t there.  Wait…am I trippin’, or is this guy….?  Sweet Jesus.  Joe has only half a beard.

Yup.  That’s right.  Joe was fully intoxicated, fully clothed in shorts and a short sleeved shirt (in 50 degree weather)….all while having half of his face shaved.  Made for a great laugh and some interesting memories.

So, I guess Joe just proved to me that you can, indeed, have youR cake and eat it too.

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Urban Hunting

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Soooooo….this week I was gonna put up a post in my Light Rail Diaries section.  It was about drunk passengers, ladies that talk too loud & spread their business, street walkers, unicorns, corporate businessmen, crazy people that drive Prius’, midgets, pregnant women, stray dogs, 6 ft tall crossdressers wearing bad wigs, dancing babies….and my all time favorite…Paula Patton.  Ok…maybe not Paula Patton.

Or, maybe not even the crazy Prius drivers.  Or, maybe I was gonna write about one or two of those things & the Mrs suggested I write something a tad bit different.

Yeah, let’s go with that.  Time to be different.  So here you go ladies and gents.  I present to you something different:

Urban Hunting

Her eyes are squinted so that she can focus on her target.  Her body is crouched low so that she can remain quiet and unseen.  Her movements are slow and steady.  She knows that the slightest noise will alert him. Just like the fiercest predator on the African plains, she stalks her prey.

Quiet & patient.  Slow & stealthy.  Patience is the name of the game she plays. Every step she takes puts her one moment closer to claiming her prize.  A prize that can only be held by one, but is constantly fought for by them both.

Here it is.  The moment of truth.  The opportunity she has worked for.  He is clueless.  She is fully aware.  Eyes still squinted.  Mind still focused.  Her muscles, once relaxed, are now tensed, flexed, and ready to pounce.

With one fluid motion, she leaps through the air.  Like a lioness stalking her prey for the pride, she leans in….. SLAP!  Right across the back of his head.  Then in a continuous motion using her arms to push him to the mattress.

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My buddy Jaylah. So sweet and full of energy.

Yup, she got him this time.  Jaylah is the Queen of the hill!  While baby Kam looks at me in disbelief like: “Dude, you really gonna let her do a brotha like that!?!”

Lets pause for a moment:

Why not say anything?  Well, because that’s what these two do (my neice and nephew…if you didn’t know).  They fight like cats and dogs all day, every day.

Had I stopped her, she just would’ve waited until I wasn’t watching.  How do I know?…well, Sam and I used to do the same thing when we were kids.

Back to our story:  There she stands.  Hands held high like a heavy weight champion who just won the title.  She feels triumphant.  So, she bounces up and down as if she’s lighter than a feather.  She’s the boss now.

Anger clouds his judgement.  So he makes it a thing of the past.  All he can think of is revenge.  Reclaiming what was once his is now his goal.

Unbeknownst to her, her most recent victim had already begun his plot of revenge.  Kam, not at all shaken by what just happened, walked away as if nothing had happened.  He used this time to chose his next course of action.

A master plan formed in the mind of a crafty and very intelligent 2 year old. Minutes later he took a totally different plan of attack than his most recent enemy.  He played it cool.  Instead of a slow stealthy approach, he chose to play the role of the double agent.

With a gentle smile and a warm hug, he embraced her.  By this time, all was forgotten by Jaylah.  She was still on cloud 9 after her recent victory. Not him.  Not Kam.  His competitive nature will not allow anything to be taken from him.  Even if what was taken was nothing more than an imaginary crown.

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Look at this guy. How could you say no to a face like that?

Revenge was on his mind.  It quickly began to show on his face.  That glowing, adorable smile that once graced his face had faded away just as quickly as it appeared.

With the swiftness of a cheetah and the skill of a football player, he wrapped his body around hers, taking her to the ground.  He looked so much like his daddy.  A chip off the ‘ole block…lil Sam looked like big Sam as he slammed ball carriers down to the ground when they dared invade his space.

Her shock was understandable.  His triumph was undeniable.  The rivalry of young siblings is only just beginning.  The crown was his once again.  In one swift motion, he used her body as a stepping stool as he stood in victory.

“STOOOOOP BABY KAMERON!” …”And now it starts” was what I mumbled to myself as the two of them wrestled and fought each other for the next few minutes.

These continuous battles that they fight day in and day out will only strengthen the relationship that they will have for years to come.  I know this because I can speak from experience.  What seems like hatred between two youngsters is actually the beginnings of a love and a bond that will not be broken by anyone else.

Moments later the screams and howls of anger and pain were replaced by cheers of joy and enthusiasm.  Oh, how quickly things change.  This is why I didn’t say anything.  I knew that at some point, they would kiss and make up.  The last thing that either of them will ever do is cause serious harm to the other.  At the end of the day, no one will protect Kam like Jaylah, and no one will fight for Jaylah like Kam.  Sibling rivalry soon blossoms into sibling love.

These two will forever share a bond that no one will break.

These two will forever share a bond that no one will break.

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Light Rail Diaries: A Reflection

Nothing really to report on the train ride yesterday.  In fact, I only took the train home from work.  In the morning, I had the pleasure of riding shotgun as the Mrs drove me to work.  It was a fun ride as usual, because the two of us are silly and crack little jokes on each other.

She laughs at how I snore when I sleep.  Which is why I always “encourage” her to go to sleep first.  Hey, if you don’t want to listen to the symphony of nostril noises try drifting off to sleep before me…just a suggestion.

What do I pick at her about?  Well….uhhhh.  You know….stuff.  Hey, my wife is perfect.  She has no flaws (as I peek over my shoulders…left then right).  Did I say it right honey?  I did?  Great.

Anywho…yesterday’s trip reminded me of the first time she and I rode together.

9.16.13

Morning Edition

The soothing music keeps me comforted as I roll over to catch a few more Z’s.  Tucked away in the fetal position, wrapped in the covers.  Just like a newborn babe being cradled by his mom.

Yup, the best position to be in when you are deep in sleep.  Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talkin’ bout.  I’m more than sure that you’ve been there a time or 3 yourself.  You probably find yourself that way every Monday morning just like me.

“Uuugh….5 more minutes Ma.”  I remember muttering that every time Re Re would whisper my name in the wee hours of the morning.  “Just 5 more minutes, and I promise I’ll get up.”  That’s how I felt this morning when I heard the music whispering in my ear just like Ma used to do so many years ago.

There it is again.  What seems like hours have passed, and there is that soothing sound keeping me in such a comforting state of being.  It’s a state that can only be described as the most peaceful place to be while in a slumber.

For a third time, I hear the music playing.  This time, it seems to be louder than before.  Although loud, it’s still a comforting sound.  With this sound comes a subtle rock.  It’s a motion that causes my slumber of solace to be interrupted.

What could it have been?  Oh, of course…it’s the lovely lady laying next to me.  That music I heard was her phone’s alarm going off after being snoozed about a hundred times.  Wait, why is she still here?

…the night before…

Me:  Bri, what time are you getting up in the morning?

Bri:  It will be early.  I’ve got to get an early start on a project in the morning.  So, you can leave my car parked behind your truck.

Me:  Cool.  Ok, so I can sleep a little later, and then drive to the train station.

…morning…

I knew I should’ve switched the cars last night.  Now, Ima be late or I have to fight that nasty Monday morning traffic with Big-Baby.  Lose-lose situation any way you look at it.

A minute later any anguish, animosity, or anger I had inside melted away when she peeked around the corner.

Bri:  Sorry Boo.  I know you wanted to ride the train this morning.

Me:  (I smile and shake my head) No worries sweets.  Tell you what.  You can take me to work.  That way we can ride in the carpool lane and enjoy each other’s company for a few minutes as we take the freeway.  Then you can get breakfast, on me of course, and you may even make it to work a few minutes early.

I guess having the Mrs oversleep a little isn’t a bad thing at all.  It means more quality time for us both.

 

 

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